Medical professionals, UZ to meet

HARARE - The Zimbabwe Medical Association (Zima) will meet University of Zimbabwe (UZ) authorities to discuss planned medical students’ tuition fees hikes that have provoked violent protests at campus.

Critics say the increase in fees from $700 per semester to $1 500 with effect from 1 August would further disadvantage poor students, who are already under-represented in universities.

Zima stepped in after hundreds of medical students — due to start sitting for exams — were evicted from halls of residence on Monday evening, forcing some of them to sleep at a local church.

A UZ medical student filed an urgent High Court chamber application seeking to bar the institution from evicting students.

The court ordered their reinstatement.

Zima secretary-general Shingi Bopoto said in a statement: “As Zima, we are concerned with the welfare of medical doctors and medical students who are legally allowed to be such in this country.”

He said their priority was that the students be allowed to continue with their studies while talks were taking place.

“We will continue dialogue with the students and the UZ administration because for them to make financial adjustments at this time for the five-year programme may not be in the best interest.”

The UZ was hit by the protests dubbed #FeesMustFall on Twitter.

Thousands of students marched through campus heading to vice chancellor Levi Nyagura’s office where they wanted to hand a list of demands.

Students engaged police in skirmishes as the officers fired teargas.

The students waved placards. Some read, “#Fees must fall” and “My mother is a vendor”.

UZ has said it needed to increase fees to keep up standards.

In a memo signed by UZ registrar Sergeant Chevo, the hike had been approved by Nyagura after meeting the student executive council on June 15.

“It was clearly pointed out that the medical students pay $450 per semester of 15 weeks.

“In this regard, for third year medical students’ 30 week semester, they should pay $900.

“The vice chancellor agreed that the medical students could apply for a payment plan and pay the fees while they attend lectures,” the memo read.

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